Indigenous Australian students shine in Centre’s new HDR Pathways Program

What is it like to do research?

Thanks to the Centre’s new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Higher Degree Research (HDR) Pathways program, three QUT students got to find out it’s not what they thought it would be like.

“I found that it was a lot more enjoyable than I thought a research experience would be and I was kind of surprised by that,” says Jasper Hammond, a mechatronic engineering Student at QUT.

“I thought it was just going to be looking at paperwork. But it wasn’t. It was actually diving in and looking at a real-life situation and looking at all the data that came from it,” says Kimberley Harding, an architecture student at QUT.

“Before going through this, I thought research was more about sitting in a room and putting your head down and not meeting anyone. Through this experience I kind of learnt it’s not about that. You’re always collaborating,” says Geoffrey Beckett, an information technology student at QUT.

Geoffrey, Jasper and Kimberley are the first three participants of the program. They all took part in different research experiences during the 2022 second semester.

Kimberley is a proud Yuggera Person from Esk, Queensland, northwest of Brisbane.

“My research was on the categorisation of potential flood damage around Logan. I looked into different flooding policies and different construction types and how they were affected by floodwaters. I also looked into the time it would take to rebuild and get different materials in and out,” says Kimberley.

(L-r) Jasper, Kimberley, Geoffrey

Jasper’s family is from Canberra.

“My research was on VR and AR, so that’s Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. I really enjoyed my experience. It gave me really good insight into development in that area,” says Jasper.

Geoffrey is from the Philippines, with family here in Brisbane.

“My research was working with the School of Information Systems studying data visualisations and how people interact with how data is presented to them. I was working on making this data presentable for the participants to view this research,” says Geoffrey.

The three students all decided to step out of their comfort zones by taking part in the Data Science Centre’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HDR Pathways program.

“As a mechatronic engineer, the AR VR stuff isn’t my particular area, but I actually got to learn about development in unity and generally research in higher education,” says Jasper.

“Flooding is an extremely important topic within today’s society. I felt that there was a serious vulnerability that needed to be addressed and this research would be able to help people one day” says Kimberley.

Centre for Data Science Manager Becki Cook says by showing the diversity of Data Science, the program aims to inspire and provide a pathway for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students into HDR.

“When students do a research project, it opens their eyes to areas of their studies they wouldn’t normally see by just doing coursework. It can build their confidence and aspirations for future study. They get a better appreciation for what’s being taught, and this leads to more successful outcomes,” says Becki.

“You might be able to meet some of your teachers and see what they’re working on. You might get inspired to further continue your studies,” says Geoffrey.

The pathways program also provides a financial incentive for students to undertake HDR at QUT.

All three students say, though, one of the big advantages is the flexibility of the program.

“I was able to study full time while working on this project in my free time. Like sometimes one day a week, two days a week, or even at home,” says Geoffrey.

“I guess it was more open in terms of what I thought it would be for what you could pick. What I wanted to research about was more up to me,” says Jasper.

“As I’m in my masters, it was really good to have a team that supported me. The team was very flexible, and I was able to work from home sometimes, to suit university’s heavy study load.”

The students had this message for others considering the program.

“Definitely give it a shot. This is the perfect program to do it. It’s really up to you if you feel research is the way to go for you, have a go, see if you like research, if you don’t that’s ok too,” says Kimberley.

“You never feel stuck. There’s always someone there to help you. Someone is always willing to talk about research and sharing really bright ideas with some very talented individuals,” says Geoffrey.

“A lot of people have views of what research might be. When they actually do it, it’s more open and more fun than you would originally expect,” says Jasper.

To find out more about the program, or to apply, just head to the CDS website:

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